Gate of Forbidden City to be rebuilt Down Under

Gate of Forbidden City to be rebuilt Down Under

A planned US$523 million Chinese theme park will feature a life-size replica of the Imperial Palace Gate, a Buddhist temple and a Chinese medicine street. What's all that about?
Welcome, capitalists! The park's replica gate to the Imperial Palace will be turned into a teahouse, hotel and five-story parking lot.

Imagine transplanting a bunch of Chinese icons to a faraway land. That is pretty much what is happening under a plan announced by a local Australian council.

Featuring a full-size replica of the gate to Beijing's famed Imperial Palace, a proposed Chinese theme park is scheduled to open in 2020 in the shire of Wyong, 90 kilometers north of Sydney.

The Australian Chinese Theme Park (ACTP) has sealed an AU$10 million (US$10.5 million) deal with Wyong Shire Council to purchase a 15.7-hectare parcel of land at Warnervale for the park, whose construction is expected to cost AU$500 million.

Officials say the park is aimed at both domestic and international tourists.

“What this proposal will do is turn the Wyong Shire into a tourist mecca and bring millions of dollars worth of tourism into the area, which will have a flow-on effect to the entire region’s economy,” said Wyong Shire mayor Doug Eaton.

Everything Chinese that you can think of

Seven sections are planned for the park -- China City Gate, Tang and Song Academy, Water Towns in South China, Panda Paradise (without pandas), Wyong Theatre, Royal Villa and Thanksgiving Temple.

There will be no rides or rollercoasters or compulsory dragon motifs. Instead, the park will focus on China's rich cultural offerings, including streets dedicated to Chinese tea and wine cultures, as well as traditional Chinese medicine.

"Whatever things that are usually connected with Chinese culture will be featured in the park," said ACTP spokesperson Amanda Li.

"On the Chinese traditional medicine street, there will be old-fashioned Chinese medicine shops and Chinese massage shops."

A number of restaurants will feature at least eight styles of Chinese cuisine, from Sichuan's spicy gourmet to Shanghai's Hu cuisine.

The Wyong Theatre will feature performances of traditional Chinese martial arts, peacock dances and lion dances.

A Royal Villa resort and other hotels will be part of the park.

The park will include a nine-story pagoda, modeled after the Jing’an Temple in Shanghai, as well as gardens and courtyards in styles from different dynasties.

The park is expected to create 1,500 to 2,000 jobs. 

What do you make of the proposal? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Hiufu Wong is CNN Travel's staff writer.

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